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Winning Worker Power Without Collective Bargaining

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Last Sunday, the CWA Next Generation program hosted a virtual workshop on the topic of "Non-Contract Union Organizing." Next Gen lead activist for the Public, Health Care, and Education Workers sector and CWA Local 7799 member Maddie Pettine moderated a lively discussion featuring a panel of young members from three locals without collective bargaining agreements. Allison Becha, a member of United Campus Workers-CWA (UCW-CWA) Local 3865 in Knoxville, Tenn; Brian Palomo, a member of UCW-Arizona/CWA Local 7065 in Tucson; and Chewy Shaw, a member of Alphabet Workers Union/CWA Local 1400, which represents workers at Google and other Alphabet companies, each explained how their unions are fighting for, and winning, worker power by organizing around issues of importance to young workers.

For example, members at UCW-CWA in Tennessee are fighting for a graduate fee waiver in a state with some of the highest fees in the nation. Shaw and his co-workers are shining a light on unfair labor practices by Google against low-wage data center workers, demonstrating that it's not necessary to have a contract in order to hold corporations accountable. Brian's local has only been up and running since last August, having organized in the midst of the pandemic. He talked about the creative strategies he and his co-workers have devised to organize while social distancing in the COVID era.

In thanking the panelists and the participants who joined on a Sunday, CWA Telecommunications and Technologies Vice President Lisa Bolton, who directs the Next Gen program, said the minority or non-contract approach to forming a union, while unfamiliar to many of us, is an important tool for organizers. "It's these kinds of creative approaches, often taken up by young workers, that will help us build real power for working people."

As part of the Fight Back Film Series, CWA Next Gen will host a watch party this Sunday, February 28, at 1pm Eastern, featuring the new film "One Night in Miami" in honor of Black History Month. To join, click here. For updates on upcoming virtual workshops and other Next Gen initiatives, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.